Posts Tagged ‘capo’

0000935_performance-2-steel-string-silver_600Conceivably, all capos operate pretty much the same way: Place the capo at a fret position and go. I’ve played with many capos over the years, starting out with the traditional folk guitar, elastic strap capo, then moving to Shubb then most recently, Kyser capos, of which I have several.

But recently, and especially since I got my Simon and Patrick acoustic, I’ve been less than enthusiastic with the Kyser, especially when using the capo above the 5th fret. I’d have to spend some time positioning it so it wouldn’t put my strings out of tune and, more importantly, wouldn’t buzz if I hit the strings too hard.

So I went on a quest to find a new one. I could go back to Shubb, but I didn’t really like the lever action, and though adjustable, I’d get frustrated when moving the capo up and down the neck and having to readjust the tension. There are other spring-loaded types, but having tried those, and especially the ones with the levers on the back of the neck, meh, they got in the way. So I wanted a low-profile design that wouldn’t get in the way of my fretting hand.

The two that I considered were the Thalia and the G7th. They both seemed to operate similarly, though I was really leaning towards the ratchet design of the G7th. As for the Thalia, while it seemed to have the characteristics that I liked, the extra “form” with the inlays – which are totally cool, by the way – kind of red-flagged it as a fashion statement for me, though no doubt based on the reviews I read it was probably more than functional.

But in the end, I decided to go with the G7th. This is a great capo! Squeezing it on was a little unsettling at first because I didn’t know whether or not it would work. But it works great! I’ve thus far put it on all my electric guitars and my acoustic and it works pretty much flawlessly with no string buzz or bending my strings out of tune on all of them.

For my acoustic, I had to find just the right place to get the best performance, but I was expecting that because the action on my acoustic is just a tad high. But once I found the spot, it has worked great.

Now the question is: Do I have buyer’s remorse for spending $50 on it? And for those who are considering getting one of these, a good question would be: Do I think it’s worth it?

That’s complicated. No, I don’t have buyer’s remorse because it just works incredibly well and it’s obvious a lot of time and effort has gone into designing this capo. But on the other hand, it is rather expensive for such a utilitarian, pedestrian accessory. At least for me, it solved the string buzz issue I was having with my Kysers, so from that perspective, yes, for me, it was a good purchase. But for those considering getting one, the question you have to ask yourself is are you getting this because it’s cool, or does it really solve a problem?

“Cool” is certainly a reason to go get something like this. For us gear sluts, that’s a given. But I also have a very practical side so I tend to ignore the cool factor and try to focus on function. As I mentioned above, this capo has solved a real problem for me, so I’m happy with the purchase. And yes, I’d recommend getting it. The design is great and really unobtrusive.

But I will say this: If you’re happy with what you’re using now and it works for you, this isn’t something I’d rush to the store to get. It’s certainly a nice-to-have, that’s for sure.


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Ever since I’ve been playing guitar, I’ve been using a capo. My capo of choice is the Kyser Quick Change Capo (shown to the left), but I’ve used Shubb capos as well. I prefer the Kyser because it’s great for mid-song key changes, something I learned from watching James Taylor play “Your Smilin’ Face” on a TV special years ago. Up to that point, I was using Shubb capos which are great for getting just the right tension, but forget about mid-song key changes.

Anyway, yeah, yeah, yeah… some “purists” call them “cheaters.” But I regularly play 4-hour acoustic gigs, and frankly, I just couldn’t do without a capo. Being able to Capo III play D to play a song written in F is a helluva lot easier than using all barre chords, plus it frees up my fingers to more complicated runs. To each, his or her own…

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I was reading a thread on The Gear Page about David Grissom explaining how to play a couple of tunes where he was using a capo. As usual with subjects that are potentially controversial, this thread had lots of posts, and most were replies to those who thought the use of a capo as cheating.

I’ve always been intrigued by this issue. I’ve used a capo for years for both acoustic and electric without even thinking about it. But there have been a few people throughout the years whom I’ve run across who say using a capo is cheating. I have a one word reply to that: Bullshit!

Tell that to James Taylor, or Paul Simon, or Davey Johnstone or even Albert Collins. They’re cheating? Ha! Especially with JT, there are some things that you just can’t do very easily without a capo when playing his tunes.

I look at a capo as a tool to help me play more comfortably. For instance, my Friday night solo acoustic gigs are four hours long. My first set is always at least two hours, and I play a lot of songs that require a capo. While I could play barre chords for almost all the songs, my question is, “Why?” If I have a tool that will let me play chords in the first position, it’s easier on my left hand.

What’s easier to frequently fret for a Bb chord, a standard G-chord shape at Capo III, or using an E-chord shape with a barre chord on the sixth fret? You could argue that doing a barre chord is pretty easy, but try doing that for all the chords in a song on an acoustic guitar. Lots of pain.

Here’s a James Taylor cover I do called “Something in the Way She Moves:”

I play that song in Db, so I play an A chord-shape at Capo IV. The opening riff is an A chord-shape that slides up to an Asus4 (add 6). Without a capo, you can easily pluck the 2nd and 4th strings. But to play that chord accurately according to the original composition, you need to pluck the 1st and the 3rd strings as well, which are open with a capo. Unless you have some super-long fingers (which I don’t have), then playing this chord is virtually impossible if you’re barring on the 4th fret.

So in the case above, the capo simply greases the wheels. A couple of years ago, a dude came up to me at the restaurant and asked how I played that tune. I put my capo on my guitar, to which he said, “Oh… You use a ‘cheater.'” I knew he was joking, but that statement irritated me a bit, so I took off my guitar, held it out to him and said, “Okay, if it’s a cheater, I want you to show me how to play it without a capo. If you can, then not only will I play it your way from now on, I’ll give you all the money in my tip jar,” which had about $50 in it. He politely declined…

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Just got my latest issue of Guitar Player, and as usual, went to the gear section first to see if there were any new and interesting pieces of gear. Normally, the stuff there is pretty tame, but I got really intrigued by a short product review on the Harmonic Capo. Unlike a normal capo that you place on a particular fret to play open chords at a particular fret position, the harmonic capo is placed at a harmonic fret: 12th, 7th, or 5th, and it will play the harmonic there. But the really cool thing about this is that unlike a normal capo, where you can only play the frets above the capo’d position, with the harmonic capo, you can play at frets above AND below the fretted position of the capo. It’s a very interesting concept that can yield some very interesting tonal possibilities. Check out this video by the inventor:

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